Financial sector moves to develop S'porean core

More measures to help develop and retain a core Singaporean workforce for the financial sector were unveiled yesterday.

One initiative is the Work-Study Support Programme that will fund 80 per cent of internship stipends, capped at $1,000 per month, for Singaporean undergraduates who serve their internships at financial institutions.

The aim is to develop job-ready graduates and build a Singaporean talent pipeline for the sector.

It is part of the SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programme (WSDeg), which enables students to gain meaningful work experience and acquire work-relevant skills.

The financial services sector has been a major participant of the WSDeg scheme since its introduction in 2017, and the Work-Study Support Programme will help scale the programme in strategic growth areas, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) noted at a webinar yesterday.

MAS will also extend the Training Allowance Grant for company-sponsored trainees by six months from Dec 31 to June 30.

Additional support is coming from the Institute of Banking and Finance, which will extend its 5 per cent additional course fee credit to cover the same period. The scheme aims to boost job retention through upskilling workers amid changing tasks and roles.

The Training Allowance Grant will keep up the training momentum of in-demand skills, such as technology, and in new growth areas like green finance.

MAS urged employers to continue to tap enhanced training support measures to equip locals with skills to enhance their employability.

Mr Patrick Lee, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, said the new schemes complement its $5 million investment to boost talent development and accelerate digitalisation.

"With supportive industry initiatives, as well as our continued investments and training efforts, I am confident this will encourage more aspiring bankers to step forward, and we can accelerate reskilling efforts," he said in a separate statement e-mailed to The Straits Times.

Ms Susan Cheong, DBS' group head of talent acquisition, said the bank has partnered Nanyang Technological University to offer a 10-week internship for students in NTU's Applied Wealth Management Programme since last year.

"We eventually hired 16 of these students this year," she noted.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon said that amid the Covid-19 pandemic, job creation has moved to the front and centre of MAS' financial development agenda.

The financial sector accounted for 13.3 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and employed more than 170,000 workers last year. It created 22,000 net jobs between 2015 and last year, with about 70 per cent of those taken up by Singapore citizens.

In the first half of this year, the financial sector managed to create 1,900 net jobs despite the pandemic, with all going to locals.

Mr Menon said a concerted effort is needed to give mid-career job seekers the chance to be trained for these new job roles. "Employers must be willing to take a calculated chance to hire and train mid-career job seekers who have good experience but may not have all the requisite skills, but can be trained.

"Likewise, job seekers must be willing to step out of their comfort zone, and take a stab at trying new roles and picking up new skills."

Mr Menon said MAS has been working with the private banking industry for an indicative commitment of about 200 trainees over the next three years for the new Work-Study Support Programme, with plans to expand its efforts to growth areas such as asset management.

He urged more financial institutions to join these programmes to help build a strong talent pipeline. "Together, we can transform Singapore's financial sector workforce to be among the best globally," he said.

  • Additional reporting by Sue-Ann Tan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2020, with the headline 'Financial sector moves to develop S'porean core'. Subscribe